Sylvester Stallone may have left the Rocky/Creed franchise (which we've ranked), but he will always be Rocky Balboa to so many fans. The actor’s boxing franchise, which began in 1976, has become iconic over the years and has produced one of the most popular film characters of all time. The reach of the franchise is so broad that even The Pope recognized Stallone from the big-screen sports saga during their recent meeting. That detail led to a great Rocky-inspired moment from the First Blood actor, because of course, and an unforgettable interaction with the religious leader.
The beloved 77-year-old actor recently had the opportunity to meet Pope Francis at The Vatican in Italy, alongside his brother, Frank, wife Jennifer Flavin, and daughters Sophia, Sistine and Scarlet. The clergyman received the actor with a warm handshake and remarked that “We grew up with your films.” The star was visibly flattered and jokingly showed off his boxing moves, a tribute to his legendary “Rocky” character. He also said, “Ready, we box!” The Catholic leader was charmed by the actor and laughed while also greeting his family. You can see the clip that ABC News shared from the interaction on X below:
"Ready? We box!" Sylvester Stallone jokingly raises his fists to Pope Francis after the pontiff tells the 'Rocky' star he grew up with his movies. https://t.co/EAhrTWPhaW pic.twitter.com/WAhocnlHiQSeptember 8, 2023
This interaction, while incredibly sweet, truly shows how wide-reaching the Rocky films truly are. They are not only an American phenomenon, but are universal touchstones as well, inspiring people from all different countries and backgrounds. While Sylvester Stallone’s filmography is full of badass, action films and great performances, the Rocky movies certainly stand out, and are so popular that even a simple boxing motion is enough for one to see the film is being referenced.
The actor played Rocky Balboa eight times throughout six films, in which he was the lead character. He also played him twice in a supporting capacity in the first two Creed movies. He retired from the role after the second film but still acted as a producer on the threequel that released earlier this year. His dedication to the franchise is unmatched, as he also has writing credits on most of the films involving his character. At one point, Stallone also even planning to write and produce a prequel TV series about the titular boxer. Even if he may not play the character again, his love for the role is evident and is a big part of why the Rocky legacy has spanned generations.
Meeting The Pope is a great honor for those with a connection to the Catholic Church like the seasoned actor, who has been open about his devotion to Catholicism. A private audience with the religious leader is so rare, but you havve to think it was even sweeter for the star since the pope recognized him and had a personal connection to the Rambo star’s films. Based on the video of the moment, the action star was moved and honored and will surely cherish the special interaction forever.
You can check out Sylvester Stallone’s iconic performances as Rocky Balboa by streaming the first five Rocky films now using a Netflix subscription. Fans of the Cop Land actor should also read up on the best Stallone movies and how to watch them.